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Billions of pounds of meat fill U.S. warehouses with nowhere to go

Staff Writer |
More than 2.5 billion pounds of meat and poultry produced by U.S. farmers have been stockpiled in cold-storage warehouses with the amount expected to grow further, according to the latest federal data.

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Record production of beef, pork, poultry and turkey has become increasingly dependent on exports as US consumers cannot buy up the huge amount of meat. That would drive down prices for American consumers, restaurants and retailers.

However, the recent import tariffs imposed by the country’s trade partners on the wide range of US goods, including agricultural produce, have slowed down sales of US meat and poultry abroad.

“We’ve got too much capacity built in this industry if we’re not going to be exporting more product,” Ken Maschhoff, the chairman of Illinois-based hog-farming company Maschhoffs, told the media.

The businessman stresses that the company was considering expansion into less “geopolitically charged” regions, such as Eastern Europe or South America. The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects the U.S. meat industry to produce a record 102.7 billion pounds of meat in 2018.

Plunging exports along with increasing domestic stockpiles puts at risk profits for the U.S. meat processors as well as prices for livestock and poultry producers. Lean hog futures at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange have reportedly dropped 14 percent since the end of May.

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